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Creative Commons for Religious Professionals: Copyright

Creative Commons and Copyright

Copyright and Creative Commons go hand-in-hand. Creative Commons doesn't replace copyright or work around it. Creative Commons are copyright licenses that makes copyright law work for creators. It has both a simple, human readable part that is easily understand and a legally part that takes a creators desire to share their work and makes it work legally within copyright law. 




Image: "Copyright" by Nick Youngson CC BY-SA 3.0 

What is copyright?

"Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to the authors of “original works of authorship” that are fixed in a tangible form of expression. An original work of authorship is a work that is independently created by a human author and possesses at least some minimal degree of creativity. A work is “fixed” when it is captured (either by or under the authority of an author) in a sufficiently permanent medium such that the work can be perceived, reproduced, or communicated for more than a short time. Copyright protection in the United States exists automatically from the moment the original work of authorship is fixed." 

Source: Copyright Basics: Circular 1

What are the rights of copyright?

  • to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords
  • to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work
  • to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending
  • in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works, to perform the copyrighted work publicly
  • in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work, to display the copyrighted work publicly
  • in the case of sound recordings, to perform the copyrighted work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.

Source: ​​​​​​17 U.S.C. §§ 107-122

What can have copyright?

  • Literary works
  • Musical works, including accompanying words
  • Dramatic works, including accompanying music
  • Pantomimes and choreographic works
  • Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • Sound recordings
  • Architectural works

Source: ​​​​​​17 U.S.C. §§ 102

What CANNOT have copyright?

  • Facts
  • Ideas, Methods, and Systems
  • Inventions
  • Recipes
  • Names, Titles, Short Phrases
  • Typeface, Fonts, and Lettering
  • Layout and Design
  • Blank Forms
  • Familiar Symbols and Designs

Source: Works Not Protected by Copyright: Circular 33 

How long does copyright last?

Works created on or after January 1, 1978

  • Single Author: 70 years after death of author 
  • Two or more authors: 70 years after last surviving author's death 
  • Work for hire: 95 years from first publication or 120 years from creation, whichever is shorter

Works from 1923 to 1977

  • Maximum of 95 years from creation 

Works prior to 1923 

  • Works published prior to 1923 are in the public domain 

Source: Duration of Copyright: Circular 15a

Creative Commons License

Except where otherwise noted, content on this Library Guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Creative Commons License

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